Sunday, June 12, 2011

How Old IS The Pakiri Church?

When driving through nthn.Rodney District a few months back, I saw a tired little church near the main junction of Pakiri hamlet.
It looked to me as if it had been built about the 1870s or so. But there was no nameboard outside, so somewhat intrigued I started enquiries. Dozens of emails and phonecalls later, it seems that the church is known simply as Pakiri Church...and by all accounts it's always been called that.
But I found no details about Pakiri Church on-line - not in museum lists, church records, libraries... yet there it sits, staring out across an uninspiring farm landscape, seemingly neglected. Well, this was like a red rag to a bull - I really wanted to know something about this old gal...!
Eventually I was given a link to the Daily Southern Cross newspaper (ancestor of NZ Herald) of 26 June 1862, reporting construction of a church in the area, due to open about September. That must be it: 1862 seemed to fit with my lay estimation of its age. Ahhh no, that one was further north towards Te Hana. Then soon after, I was told the land where the church sits was gifted to the Methodist Wesleyans in 1925, with a church built and opened in 1926! There was an earlier congregation in the district (also Methodist), but they had no building.
The Methodists eventually handed it over to a local non-denominational church committee, who hold an Easter service and a Christmas carol service annually, and the occasional wedding and funeral.
The church was locally built of rimu from nearby hills. A resident told me his ancestors had milled the wood, and speculated that the timber was probably not treated. That, combined with the salty coastal air, may have contributed to its current state of deterioration. Inside however it's in better shape, with some solid kauri panelling.
Pakiri Church interior by feijoacrumble/flickr
I said before it was seemingly neglected, but a dedicated band of locals - the Pakiri Church Trust - is working to restore it. Renovations proceed very slowly: the all-important piles have been done, weather boards and windows are next.
It's a labour of love, and not cheap. But if they can return the little Pakiri Church to the state of some of our other beautifully restored country churches, it will have all been worth it - whatever its age really is!


Mad Bush Farm said...

Actually I'm still digging on that one. So far lots of notices about Church Services at in many. I'll just keep on digging I suppose.

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...

thanx for your help on that - I'm quite intrigued that there's nothing definitive.